The clutch is completely disengaged between consumer trends and conjectures about the imminent demise of oil, making the future cloudy at best
Last week’s announcement by Volvo that every car, “it launches from 2019 will have an electric motor,” jolted oil investors. Then France amped up the newswire by switching on a ban: No more combustion car sales by 2040. To cap off a trilogy of electric vehicle (EV) proclamations, Elon Musk lit up the twitter feed with a photo of Tesla Motor’s first Model 3 production car.
Oil companies and investors should take note. These announcements are impacting the industry and will increasingly do so. But it’s not because electric cords are going to replace pump hoses anytime soon.
The demand for oil is as robust as it’s ever been, thanks to barrels that are priced 60 per cent lower than they were three years ago; the linkage of petroleum to the world economy is actually strengthening not weakening.
But it doesn’t matter. EV mania is affecting the psychology of investors who finance oil assets, services and infrastructure. Fog lights of reason are finding it increasingly difficult to see the future of oil past 2020, because a cloud of uncertainty is thickening around long-term demand.
The result of all this next-decade confusion is that less money is going to be flowing into the oil business. Increasingly, investors will expect a premium return for long-term projects and their money will discriminate with higher tolerance